The room was like all the others, full of dust and cobwebs, with cracks in the plaster and toppled over bits of furniture. That was not the only sign of the years of neglect the prison had gone through, Allura noting the metal walls had gone dull from dirt, the windows missing whole panes of glass. The building had clearly seen better days, the inside floor blasted by the rain that was currently filtering in through the broken windows.
The rain formed puddles on the floor, leaving wet spots that were clean of the dirt that lay everywhere. There were foot prints in the dirt, too small to be Lotor’s, leaving Allura to realize that a child had made this place his private playground. She shuddered at the thought, noting the sharp points of the broken furniture, knowing how easily a child could injure themselves here. Or worse yet, she imagined the accidentally locking of one of the cells, the child trapped with no one to come to the rescue.
It was for that very reason she had avoided exploring the other cells, quick to avoid them for fear that the chill wind that blew through the building would sweep the door shut behind her. So she stuck to rooms that had been offices, the barracks where the soldiers had slept, and the large meal hall where the prisoners took their supper in. Once she wouldn’t have been able to imagine what their world was like, but now with her extensive experience inside her prison cell, Allura could identify on some level with the men and women who had been held here.
This building left her anxious, Allura feeling a restless energy as she walked deeper into the room, running fingers along a filing cabinet. It’s drawers were still open, showing the withered pages of paperwork, Allura giving a cursory glance at them. She was hardly interested in reading the daily reports of life in this prison, more eager to explore, to just enjoy that she had the freedom to do so.
It felt good to be able to walk anywhere she pleased, with neither chain to keep her tethered in place, nor doors to bar her entry to her inquiries. It was a freedom she’d never have appreciated, if Lotor hadn’t taken it away from her in the first place. She sighed, going up on tip toe to peer at the top of a bookcase, squinting at the writing on the books’ spine.
She could use a bit of entertainment, Allura itching to do something while Lotor slept. Her lips turned up into a smile, Allura imagining the prince as he lay sprawled out on the cot in the warden’s office. It was barely big enough to fit his large frame, his one arm had dangled off the side, the thin bed sheet wrapped haphazardly around his waist. He had looked so peaceful while he slept, no longer tormented by his love for her as long as he dreamed.
She had wanted to crawl into bed next to him, steal some of the warmth of his body as she relaxed against his side. But the cot prevented her from finding the room, Allura just standing over the prince, watching him. She stared until her eyes grew heavy with sleep, and then she curled up on the couch, choosing an uncomfortable perch over returning to her cell.
When she woke up, he was still asleep, Allura unable to bear the thought of disturbing his rest. So she went exploring, eager to see what the rest of the building was like, and so far she was disappointed. Lotor had only seen to restoring two of the rooms, leaving the rest in disrepair. It must have given him a lot of hard work to get those two rooms fixed in such a short amount of time, making the prison their own private getaway of sin and salvation.
At least….she hoped for the latter, wanting to save Lotor from his anguish, and her from her lies, bring them together in love once more. Her eyes stared at the books, Allura thinking on how awkward the conversation following their dinner had been. Last night Lotor had been gruff, barely speaking to her, leaving Allura to flounder about as she sought out suitable topics to bring up.
Eventually they fell into silence, Lotor soon leaving her to shower. Once clean, he had retired to his bed, little word from him in response to her lingering presence in the room. He seemed to determined to ignore her, as though that would let him forget the effect her nearness had on him. ~I won’t let you do it Lotor.~ Allura thought, reaching for a book. ~I won’t make it easy on you to forget you love me.~
The book itself was some kind of mystery novel, Allura flipping through the browned pages. It was hardly her chosen genre, but at least it was something worth browsing, if only to pass the time. Making a face at the dusty grime on the book’s covers, she turned, and gasped, nearly dropping her prize in the process.
Lotor stood in the doorway, eyes angry, mouth a cruel slash as he stared at her. She shifted, nervous, words betraying just how much as she spoke. “Lotor! You’re up already?!”
“Just what are you doing walking around this place?” Lotor demanded, taking a careful step into the room. Floorboards creaked under his weight, Lotor not losing his incensed look.
“I was bored…” Allura said, tapping a finger against the book. “I was looking for something to do.” His eyes lighted on the book, Lotor instantly relaxing somewhat. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“…………..” He was hesitating, lips still pressed together tightly. “It’s nothing.” He said at last, Lotor turning his back on her. “I was just startled when I couldn’t find you.”
“Startled?” She found it an odd choice of words, Allura cocking her head to the side as she studied him. A thought came to her, Allura imagining the kind of emotions she would have felt if she had woken up to discover him gone. Anger and anxiety being chief among them, along with fear and despair. Could Lotor have felt any of those, could she have frightened him into thinking she had left?
“You thought I had left!” Allura exclaimed, her accusation causing him to stiffen his back like a rigid board. “You woke up and thought I had fled you during the night.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time you left me.” Lotor said, and she knew she had earned that remark. But still she pushed at him, coming closer as she spoke.
“Your face just now…it was so angry…were you angry at me? For making you think I had abandoned you again?” No answer from Lotor, Allura reaching him, and stepping to circle around to his front.
He turned to avoid her seeing his face, but not fast enough, Allura catching the sight of relief in his eyes. She couldn’t keep from smiling, thinking it was a hopeful sign that he felt relieved that she was still here. “I’m sorry.” She said, touching his arm. “I didn’t mean to cause you distress…” He tensed up at her words, but still wouldn’t look at her. “It was thoughtless of me. Especially given how I made you promise to not just up and leave me without saying good-bye.”
“Yes. It was.” Lotor said, agreement moving him to speak.
“Still I’m glad.” Allura said, voice light and happy. “You still care enough to want me close by.”
“Of course I still care!” Lotor snapped, and now he looked at her, eyes flashing with anger. “I’ve admitted I’ve loved you, what more do you want?!”
“For you to believe in me for once.” Allura said quietly.
He ignored that, and began ranting, voice snappish as he spoke. “This place is dangerous. You could have gotten hurt. The floor here is weak and unstable, and there are all kind of sharp objects around.” His eyes narrowed at her smile, Lotor hissing at her. “Why do you look so pleased at the prospect of getting hurt?!”
“Because each word you speak to me, shows just how much you care for me.” Allura told him, not losing the smile when he jerked away from her hand.
“Then I will speak no more as to stop looking foolish in your eyes.” Abruptly he was moving, Lotor stalking out into the hall. Allura trailed after him, clutching the book to her chest, a sigh issuing out of her.
“You don’t look foolish to me Lotor.” She told him, watching his hair bounce against his back. “Nor do you sound it when you speak honestly on how you feel towards me. It…it makes me happy to hear. Hopeful.”
“Yes. It makes me think there is still a chance for us. A chance to be together beyond sex. As friends, as lovers, as a couple who truly care for one another.” Allura said. His next words had her cringing, the unmuted hurt in his voice making her heart go out to him.
“You’ve blown all our chances for that Allura.”
“I don’t believe that!” Allura cried out, stepping quicker behind him. “There’s always room for second chances. Give it to me….to deny me is to deny yourself…is the anger worth the pain?”
“Sometimes the anger and pain is all I have left.” Lotor admitted, opening the door to the warden’s office. She followed him into the room, pausing long enough to set the book down on a table.
“That’s no way to live your life.” Allura said. “The anger and the bitterness will consume you.”
“Is it any different from the way my love for you did?” Lotor questioned her. “It’s nearly destroyed me…”
“But it didn’t. If anything it’ll make you stronger!” Allura insisted, watching as Lotor lowered himself down onto the couch. He gave a bitter chuckle at her words, leaning back against the couch’s cushions. “It’s true…”
“I tire of this discussion.” Lotor said, looking as weary as he claimed to be.
“It just leads us in an endless circle, never resolving anything.” He told her.
“Because you won’t let us!” Allura pointed out with a frown.
“There is no us. Not anymore.” Lotor said, his stubbornness making her want to scream. “Change the subject, or read your book. Just leave me be Allura.”
“Fine.” Sour was her expression, Allura snatching at the book, moving to sit down next to him on the couch. Lotor was stiff with tension, but did not protest her closeness. Opening the book, she began angrily flipping through the pages, noting it contained several short stories about murder mysteries. She stared at the words, trying to read, but could not focus. Allura spending much of her time, peeking at Lotor through the corner of her eye.
He sat with his arms crossed over his chest, staring at nothing in particular. A brooding expression was on his face, Allura wondering at his thoughts. She frowned, glaring hostility down at the book, until at last she was throwing it on the floor, turning to face him in her agitation.
“Why do you stay here if you hate being around me so much?!” He looked startled, either by her actions or the question, Allura continuing. “Why have you not returned to Doom?! Why remain here to torment us both if you’re so eager to leave me behind?!”
“Yes? Go on!” Her tone was rife with impatience, Allura glaring at him as she waited for his answer.
“I don’t know.” Lotor finally said, bringing a hand to touch his hair. “Gods help me, but I don’t know.” He whispered that last one, eyes shining with pain.
“I think you do know…” Allura said, pressing him to give her more. “You want that chance for happiness with me. You want to be with me. You can’t turn your back on me, and you won’t just leave me to go back to your duties, anymore than I will leave you! We’re stuck here, trapped in limbo on your decision.”
“And what if I did give you that second chance?” He demanded gruffly. “What then Allura? I wouldn’t be content to let you go, and could you really turn your back on your people and your planet?”
Now it was her turn to hesitate, Lotor snorting at the long silence between them. “I don’t know…there are things to consider….so much to plan…neither one of us is free to do as we truly please.” She chewed on her bottom lip, a nervous habit she had never broken. “Lotor…why not just take what you want? Be the bad guy and spirit me off to Doom?”
“Is that what you really want?” He asked, and this time she answered him instantly.
“If it meant I could be with you, then yes.”
“I don’t know…” Lotor shook his head, expression troubled.
“Why not?” Allura demanded. “What could be holding you back? I’m willing to give you everything…everything I have and more!”
“That alone should make me suspicious.” He muttered under his breath.
“Lotor! If anything, I should be suspicious of your intentions!” Allura said, words snapping out harsher than she meant. “You’ve kidnapped me, had your way with me, and now you seek to toss me aside. You’ve done terrible things to me, and you’ve hurt me both with your body and your words.”
“I’ve been unkind on purpose.” Lotor admitted, looking sheepish.
“Yes, you have!” Allura agreed adamantly. “What’s more…you’ve told me things…terrible things and I have forgiven you. I’ve even come to accept the fact that you’ve, you’ve fathered children with other women. Children I might add, you don’t even care about!” He looked shocked at her words, but that only lasted an instant before he erupted into laughter.
“What’s so funny?” demanded Allura, hardly pleased with his reaction.
“That you would believe the worst of me.” Lotor said, his chuckles dying down. “Honestly Allura, can you really see me turning my back on my kids, even if they are not legitimate heirs to my throne?”
Her brow furrowed, Allura staring at him. “But you said…”
He snorted, cutting off her reply. “You’re not the only who has a talented tongue when it comes to lying Allura.”
“It was a lie?” Allura asked, wanting to be sure. He nodded, and relief welled up within her.
“What would you have done if I really had a gaggle of bastards floating about the galaxy?” His curious inquisition had her pausing, Allura thinking about it.
“I’d have made you track them all down. Make you take care of them. Not just financially, but give them a father’s love and affection.”
“I don’t know if this man is capable of being a good father.” Lotor’s admittance had her even more surprised, Allura staring at him perplexed. “All I’ve had is my own father as an example. And you can imagine just what a mitigated disaster of fatherhood Zarkon is.”
“People don’t have to repeat the sins of their parents.” Allura said, trying to reassure him. “You can be a good father, I know you can. You love too strongly to hurt your own offspring.”
“……I thank you for that Allura.” Lotor said, not quite smiling at her. She smiled for him, letting the brightness of her expression take it’s full effect on him. Lotor seemed to stare mesmerized for a second, and then he was shaking his head, turning away from her. “You must be hungry. Allow me to make you some breakfast.”
“No, allow me.” Allura said, hurrying to her feet before Lotor could stand. “Allow me to serve you for once.”
“Do you even know how to work a micro oven?” He asked doubtfully, and she laughed.
“If you can manage it, I’m sure I can as well.” She had already walked over to the mini storage device, hands digging about for some meal packets. She kept the jovial expression on her face, heart elated at the thought that Lotor had not sired any children on his slaves. Perhaps it was odd, but she felt possessive of him, wanting to be the only woman to carry his child. A thrill went through her as she thought about them having sex, Allura knowing that there was a very good chance Lotor had gotten her pregnant.
She wondered if it was wrong of her to hope for that, when their future was so uncertain. Wrong of her to hope a child would tie him further to her, force him to give up trying to get over her. A baby could be the solution to their problems, buying her the time she needed to earn back Lotor’s trust. ~Please.~ Allura prayed, as she put the food on the tray. ~Please let me be pregnant!~